Eight-minute chocolate orange cake

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What’s not to love about a cake that you can make entirely in one cake tin? Hardly any dishes and quick to boot.  Because, although I love to cook and bake, there are times when I am too greedy or impatient to fuss around.  If it’s delicious and you can get it in the oven in under ten minutes, count me in.

I have been fiddling around with this particular recipe for a few weeks now, having found myself in need of a cake on several occasions (mainly the delicious shared morning teas for which my workmates are justly famous, but also once or twice just NEEDING CAKE).

It is adapted from this recipe for six-minute chocolate cake, which I understand is an old Moosewood one.  And perhaps this is why I am particularly drawn to this notion, because I have an enduring soft spot for all things Moosewood. I think The Enchanted Broccoli Forest is one of the sweetest cookbook titles of all time.  I still rue the day I trustingly lent out my own lovely Moosewood Cookbook, never to be seen again.

I have called this recipe an eight-minute chocolate cake, as I don’t feel I can truthfully say it takes six minutes like its predecessor, since I ask that you zest an orange. But, I promise it’s still eight minutes-quick with a chocolatey, satisfying cake at the end that’s worth the orange zesting.  It’s also pretty easy to whip up, as most of the ingredients are generally in the pantry.  I like the little dash of ground almonds for the moist and grainy texture the give, but if you don’t have these to hand, just use an extra 1/4 cup flour instead of the almonds, and it still works a treat producing a slightly firmer cake.

You will need:

  • 1 & 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds (or, if you don’t fancy ground almonds, use 1 & 1/2 cups of plain flour)
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1
 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 
cup brown sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 
cup coffee (cold)
  • 2 
teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 
tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice

Preheat your oven to 190 celsius.

Put the flour, ground almonds (if using), cocoa, baking soda, salt, sugar and the orange zest into an ungreased 9 inch round cake tin and mix it together, breaking up any lumps.

Mix together the oil coffee and vanilla and add to the dry ingredients in the tin.  Mix the batter until smooth with a whisk or a fork.

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Add the vinegar and orange juice and stir quickly. You will see pale stripes in the batter – this is where the baking soda is reacting with the vinegar and orange juice.  Stir until the vinegar and juice is just distributed through the batter.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Set aside the cake to cool.

It’s tasty dusted with a little icing sugar and served with whipped cream.  Or, as I have done in the picture, it responds well to a hearty dose of chocolate icing.

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Ginger shortbread with orange curd

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This idea came to me by accident, really.  I’m always a fan of shortbread, so any excuse for that.  But the orange part happened when a lonely orange, languishing in the fruit bowl, happened to cross my field of vision whilst I was enjoying a Sunday morning browse through Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess.

I happened to spot Nigella’s cute little Lemon Gems and immediately wanted to create similar little dollops topped with something rich and citrus-y.  Lacking the vegetable shortening required by the recipe, however, and not feeling much inclined to go out hunting for some, another hearty biscuit was needed.

Shortbread is the heartiest of the hearty in my opinion.  My friend the internet tells me that shortbread is so named due to its texture, as an old meaning of the word ‘short’ was ‘crumbly.’

My go-to shortbread is recipe is the trusty Edmonds’ and so I very naughtily used it here…and I say naughty, as I’m using not using Edmonds as part of my Edmonds Challenge, which reminds me that I am due some more excitement with that particular endeavour.  And so, I mixed things up by deviating from the recipe slightly with the addition of ginger.

Edmonds asks the following, and I have added my ginger tinkerings…

Cream 250g butter and 1 cup of icing sugar together until it’s light and fluffy.  Sift 1 cup of cornflour and 2 cups of flour together.  If you’re me, at this point also add 1.5 teaspoons of ground ginger and 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger to the flour and cornflour.  Mix the dry and creamed ingredients together, knead and roll out to 0.5cm thickness on a floured board.

At this point, I transferred the shortbread to an oven tray and it into rectangles.  I used a (clean!) fingertip to make little craters in the biscuit and popped them into a 150 degree celsius oven.

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And now for the curd. Seeing as I was having a Nigella day anyway, I used her recipe for lime curd, replacing the lime juice and zest with the juice and zest of my orange, along with a quick squeeze of lemon juice.

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When my indented shortbread had become pale golden (which took about half an hour) I removed it from the oven and filled the little craters with the orange curd.

It was a creamy, custardy curd which was rather pleasant with the shortbread.  And the whole lot went at work the next day, so they can’t be all bad.

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